February 10, 2012 / 11:45 PM / 6 years ago

Woman pleads guilty in 1987 kidnapping of infant

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A woman who took a 19-day-old baby from a New York City hospital nearly a quarter century ago and raised the girl as her own pleaded guilty on Friday to a federal kidnapping charge.

Ann Pettway, 50, admitted in Manhattan federal court that on August 4, 1987, she kidnapped Carlina White, who had been brought to a Harlem hospital by her parents to be treated for a fever.

Pettway, dressed as a nurse, walked out of the hospital with the baby in her arms and caught a train back to her home in Bridgeport, Connecticut, according to the police account.

Pettway renamed the child Nejdra Nance, and raised the child as her own. White was a teenager when she began to suspect that Pettway was not her biological mother. When White asked Pettway for her birth certificate, Pettway told White she did not have it because she was given to her as an infant by a woman who used drugs, prosecutors said.

In 2010, White found a picture of a missing child in a database run by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children that seemed to resemble her own baby pictures. Her hunch was eventually confirmed with the help of DNA testing, and in 2011 she was reunited with her biological parents, Joy White and Carl Tyson, who had since separated.

As part of a plea deal with prosecutors, Pettway agreed to plead guilty to a single charge of kidnapping that carries a sentencing guideline range of about 10 to 12-and-a-half years. Judge P. Kevin Castel is not obliged to accept the recommendation. The maximum sentence Pettway faces is life in prison.

Sentencing is due to take place on May 14. Pettway’s lawyer, a public defender, did not respond to requests for comment on Friday.

Reporting By Jonathan Allen; editing by Dan Burns

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